Courtesy: USC Aiken Athletics
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – The No. 15 University of South Carolina Aiken baseball team was unable to overcome an early deficit in a 7-4 loss to Catawba Saturday afternoon in an elimination game at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
The Pacers conclude their season with a 40-15 mark.
Head coach Kenny Thomas‘ team struck with a pair of runs in the top of the first. With one down, Luke Westerberg reached on a fielding error. He jogged to second when Mitchell Price drew a walk. After a fly ball out, Jonathan Banks ripped a double down the left field line, plating both base runners for the 2-0 edge.
The Indians tallied four runs in the second and one in the third for a 5-2 advantage.
USC Aiken battled back in the fifth stanza. Looking at a 3-1 count, Westerberg blasted a towering shot over the left center field wall for a round-tripper, making it 5-3.
Price earned a full-count walk and moved to second on a single through the right side. A wild pitch pushed both runners up one base. Banks lifted a deep fly ball near the warning track in left field, driving in Price for a 5-4 score. However, USC Aiken could not even the contest in the inning.
The Pacers had a chance to tie it in the sixth. Skylar Mercado led off the frame with a walk before he quickly stole second base. An error allowed him to reach third. However, he was thrown out at home for the final out of the inning after a shallow fly ball to right field.
Zach Moon came in as a pinch hitter in the eighth and smacked a single into left field, but he was stranded at first base.
For the game, Banks drove in three runs while Westerberg accounted for the other RBI. Price and Westerberg each crossed home twice in the contest.
Joseph Benitez came in as a relief pitcher in the sixth inning. He struck out our batters, giving him the single-season school record for strikeouts with 135 – one more than Bryan Ward had in 1993.